The Dole Blackhole

With the challenges facing the Irish Economy at the moment one thing that really needs an overhall is our social welfare system. A overhall of the social welfare system has the potential to reignite the economy and move it from its current economic market correction (recession) into a functioning economy again. Best of all it could cost almost nothing to do, it just requires a bit of better thinking.

In the past month i’ve experienced a social welfare officer ADVISING a client they would be “BETTER OFF” on the dole than working full 40 hour week at 11 Euro an hour (permanant position)! Where’s the incentive for an unskilled worker to start at the bottom of the ladder and work their way up?

What really ticked me off in this case was that the welfare representative suggested that the person in question stay on the welfare for another 5 months to make the minimum threshold for the back to work program – which would then allow the worker to keep 75% of his benefits and the wage for the first year, 50% in the second and 25% in the third. Essentially over 12,000 Euro incentive not to work! and making him earn more than his superiors for the first year. And all that assumes that the economy can provide him with another Job as the unemployment rate rises.

I have nothing against folks on the welfare who need / deserve it. I do resent those with the attitude that its easier to be on the dole than to work – in my opinion they don’t deserve it and shouldnt get it. If you have no other option then the dole is for you, if it seems like the easiest option for a person then we owe it to that person to make other options easier.

So how can we Fix the Welfare System?

How about we let them work?? Lets go and tell everyone they can earn as much as they like while on the Dole, on top of their benefits, but they have to pay tax at a higher rate (maybe even 50% of earnings). If you work one hour thats great, 22 hours even better, 40 hours hey maybe you’d be fiscally better off off the dole paying lower taxes. Every person should be a little better off to reflect thier contribution to society and the taxes will go into the system towards dole payments. Ok so the maths not exact here, but would take less than an hour to work it out properly.

At the moment the system says if you contribute X you loose Y. Why not say if you work X you keep Y but there are some conditions – all of which would result in you being better off. People are not inherently lazy and i believe the right incentives will work. Can you imagine a CEO telling their staff if they contribute 10% more they will then have their hours and wages cut! No? Then why do we treat the people in the most need for that little extra income like this?

Telling people they have to do something just doesnt work, using a carrot and stick approach does. Take primary teachers for example – i had one apply for a full time position not cause she wanted the job but apparently they need to sit an interview or two during each summer ‘holiday’ to get their dole money. Apparently this is common place but does this sound like a system that works for or against the economy?

Like any good incentive scheme with postives must come negative reinforcements. Abusing the welfare system should be easily reported. If you get cause abusing the system, you will continue getting your payments but will be required to put in some community hours to earn it – doing whatever you excel in that adds community value.

As with the current climate of welfare where if you can find temp work for a month thats great – but then it’ll take 6 weeks to get you back on the dole! So you would be far worse off for contributing to society!

So the answer is simple, make it easier and more benificial for people to contribute, if you want to work then work. If your being on the dole because its easy – its us that have let you down for making it so. If you can’t contribute to society thats fine too, for thats what the welfare should be for – the people who really need it!

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